It’s going to be a battle for the top spot in the Mountain Division

by Jon McBride

There are 10 days until the Western States Hockey League roster movement deadline, 39 days until the end of the regular season and 70 days until the start of the Thorne Cup Finals in El Paso.

Time. Is. Ticking.

With each day comes an added sense of urgency in the WSHL’s Mountain Division.

Right now, this is what we’re looking at, at the top of the division:

Utah Outliers – 36 GP – 29-6-1 – 59 PTS

Ogden Mustangs – 39 GP – 29-9-1 – 59 PTS

Colorado Eagles – 37 GP – 27-6-4 – 58 PTS

It’s hard to get much closer than that. It looks like this will be the tightest battle for a regular season divisional crown in the WSHL this season.

Let’s take a look at each team’s remaining schedules, which could give us some insight as to how things might shake out.


vs. Cheyenne x 3

vs. Idaho x 3

at Casper x 3

vs. Colorado x3

at Superior x 3

Total remaining games: 15

Home games: 9. Road games: 6. 

Average winning percentage of remaining opponents: .494

Record this season against remaining opponents: 13-2-0 (have not played Idaho previously, both losses to Colorado)


at Casper x 3

vs. Superior x 3

at Idaho x 3

vs. Colorado x 3

Home games: 6. Road games: 6. 

Average winning percentage of remaining opponents: .607

Record this season against remaining opponents: 12-2-1 (losses to Superior and Colorado, overtime loss to Idaho)


vs. Superior x 3

at El Paso x 3

vs. Cheyenne x 2

at Utah x 3

at Ogden x 3

Home games: 5. Road games: 9. 

Average winning percentage of remaining opponents: .607

Average winning percentage of remaining opponents (minus Cheyenne): .749

Record this season against remaining opponents: 15-2-2 (have not played El Paso previously, losses to Ogden, overtime loses to Superior and Utah)


Other than the further evidence of how close these teams really are, what do all these numbers mean? Well, there are a few x factors we can probably narrow in on. 

For the Outliers and Mustangs, it pretty much all comes down to how they play the same two teams: Idaho and Colorado. The Mustangs have already picked up five of six points in a series in Ogden against the IceCats earlier this season. Can they replicate that performance in McCall? Can the Outliers, who have been dominant on home ice this season at 17-1-0, be dominant at on home ice against the league’s dynasty franchise in the IceCats?

While the Outliers and Mustangs both get the Eagles at home, the Eagles have their own work to get done. They face the most difficult remaining schedule of the three, with the most road games and the highest average winning percentage of remaining opponents. On top of that, the injury bug has hit the team hard. Perhaps the most surprising score from last weekend’s games (OK, maybe outside of Tahoe’s 7-1 drubbing of Long Beach) was the Coyotes beating the Eagles 6-4. A major contributing factor to that loss? Three of the Eagles’ top veteran players were out 

with injuries — Carter Dahl, Vinny Mastrandrea and Trent Hines. If the Eagles can fight through the adversity here and somehow put together a strong finish to grab that No. 1 spot, they could be a nightmare matchup in the playoffs with that momentum.

So here we go. Each day, each practice, each game, each period and each shift are only going to get more and more important from here on out for these teams. It’s looking like every point is going to be crucial.

Buckle up.

This should be fun.